photos from these past weeks, getting okay with b's


The aim of an artist is not to solve a problem irrefutably, but to make people love life in all its countless, inexhaustible manifestations,” - Leo Tolstoy

oh man, i don't even know where to start. i have not been keeping up in these past weeks because life has been moving really fast. but i've been writing posts in my head because i don't really see the point in living and having experiences if i can't take time every now and then to contemplate what it means to me.
let's start with where i am. tonight is sunday and i photographed dogs all day in virginia. it's chilly outside and the heat is broken so my roommates and i are huddled with our laptops around the dining room table surrounded by our two tiny space heaters. natalie merchant's nursery rhymes album is playing from the kitchen. i just made a batch of gingered carrots that i am going to ferment over the next few days with my fingers crossed (i've been reading nourishing traditions and rethinking a few ideas about what i put into my body) i've been laughing with my roommates all evening and it makes me think about when people had to spend time together in one room because of scarce heating sources and how maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. adam is africa for the next week or so and i'm already missing him a bit. i bought a car last week, a beautiful cornflower blue prius, and i am still marveling at how nice and easy it has made the rush of holiday photography work.
things are good, really good, but of course not without some bumps. i had a conversation with my dad this evening that left me feeling defensive about a really small disagreement. i got a parking ticket that first time i drove my car. i was running late to teach and frazzled and although i did pay the meter and stick the little receipt in the right area on my dashboard, i neglected to see the fire hydrant two feet away from my car. doh. this week i also got back a grade on a design project. it was a really big project that i had worked on for over 30 hours and thought looked pretty good. my grade was a b. i felt it right away in my stomach but made a joke about it to hide my disappointment from my classmates. right after i went through a critique on another project where my work was praised but i was still upset about that b for a few hours. i was upset that i had worked so hard on something and it had been judged less than excellent and then i was upset that i was so upset about it.
no matter how many times i realize that my life is not about perfection, on some level i still think i should be the best at whatever i do, no matter how hard or new it is. that feeling brings me back to what it was like when i was in high school. that was a time in my life when i put so much pressure on myself to succeed that i didn't really know how to have fun. i distinctly remember the last day of school of my junior year of high school when i looked at my report card and was surprised by a b and a b+ and spent the afternoon teary and feeling sorry for myself instead of hanging out with my friends and celebrating the start of summer. i blame some of this on growing up in the super-competitive fairfax county area and a little bit on being in a family of over-workers and partially on my own instinct of perfection as self-preservation. as wrong as i know this is, i think the instinct is that if i am just perfect enough then i won't be able to get hurt.
after high school i started to gain some perspective. i went to college in a laid-back, midwestern where i was surrounded by people with dreadlocks and went on float trips. i partied and relaxed and learned to love the photojournalism work i was doing apart from the grade. then if followed that with the peace corps--a experience where the only way you can succeed is by submission to disappointment and then enjoying whatever rises up from the ash. two years in latin america really did the trick for me. it was a culture where my version of success really didn't mean that much to the people i lived with which helped me to see how it's all just perception anyway.
everything in my life teaches me about the process and this is no acceptation. a major tenant of yogic philosophy is that you must work really hard while totally releasing the results of what comes from the effort. you must try without expectation and trust that whatever comes is for your highest good. i don't know about you guys but i think this is really hard. one part of me accepts it while the other still wants everything to go the way i think it should and pouts when it doesn't. but i guess the pouting is also part of the process and probably an important one at that. i am lucky to have been able to set my life up in a way where there are not a lot of opportunities for hard line definitions of success (except for the occasional community college grade). i try my hardest to base my decisions on joy and mostly that brings me joy and the more i experience this the more it connects me to my heart and the more i can see that this is really what makes the world go round.